Craig Cochran’s picture

By Craig Cochran

A few years ago, we had a mysterious scratching sound in our attic. My 5-year-old daughter was terrified, and everybody’s sleep was being interrupted on a nightly basis.

“We need to do something about the noise in our attic,” I told my daughter.

“No!” she cried. “Don’t go into the attic. It’s too scary.”

I talked to my daughter, and it was obvious that the vagueness and seeming enormity of the problem terrified her. She didn’t understand the problem; thus it was overwhelming. In my daughter’s mind, the sound in the attic could be bats, snakes, ghosts, vampires, or big hairy monsters. I took my daughter’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“I’m a little scared, too,” I told her. “But if we can learn more about the problem, I bet we can solve it.”

My daughter seemed dubious, but she agreed to help me investigate the situation. We went into the attic with a flashlight, stabbing the beam of light into the dark and dusky corners. It didn’t take long for us to figure out the nature of our problem. We saw tiny eyes and furry little faces staring at us.

“They’re just squirrels,” my daughter giggled. “They snuck into the attic.”

Stanley H. Salot Jr.’s picture

By Stanley H. Salot Jr.

IECQ QC 080000: The Standard for Lean-Green Compliance

Although not all manufacturers around the world understand the value proposition of a lean-green, process-based manufacturing program, there are more than 1,250 that do--those that are registered to the IECQ QC 080000 standard.

IECQ hazardous substance process management (HSPM) has proven to be an efficient, effective, and financially prudent way for manufacturers to demonstrate international compliance with hazardous- substance-free components, products, and related material requirements and legislation.

Adding a lean-green, process-based manufacturing program enhances this concept and adds even greater value.

When properly implemented, QC 08000 certification provides its management and stakeholders:

Evidence of due diligence as required by:

--EU RoHS directive, WEEE directive, battery directive, packaging directive, end-of-life vehicle directive

Gwendolyn Galsworth’s picture

By Gwendolyn Galsworth

Excellence is a part of life, and we must strive for it, especially if our mistakes create problems for others. Mistakes are costly; they hit the bottom line. Some are costly enough to put us out of business.

The code word for a mistake-free state is quality. The process for achieving that begins long before gauges and calipers arrive on the scene. It’s a route with many stops, any of which can determine whether the final destination will be quality or the scrap heap.

The many stops look so routine and ordinary: choosing the right raw material, correct chemical formula, precise temperature, exact amount, specific tools, proper assembly procedures. The timely output of quality outcomes depends on each of these transactions. How can we ensure that they will all happen accurately and completely? The answer for me is visual thinking, which leads to visual devices and systems.

Visual devices ensure that each stop on the road to quality is executed perfectly, on time, and safely. A visual workplace doesn’t just minimize problems and mistakes; it can eliminate them completely for both final product quality and every transaction along the way.

William Dorner’s default image

By William Dorner

Professional statisticians typically have powerful software at their disposal to perform advanced analyses and create slick graphs. But many professionals in the quality field don't enjoy that luxury. Faced with a limited budget, they must be resourceful with the software they already have. Besides, not everyone needs the capability to perform nonlinear regression with custom loss functions for maximum likelihood! Fortunately, many occasional data analysts already own a versatile software capable of providing most basic quality analyses -- Microsoft Excel.

Skeptical? I don't blame you. The following examples show how to apply Excel for the graphical analysis of quality data. The examples range from somewhat obvious to downright clever. As it turns out, Excel's capabilities are limited only by your creativity.

Peter Marriott’s default image

By Peter Marriott

In the field of medical products, devices, and components, regulatory requirements and customer expectations are demanding. Throughout the world, manufacturers and their suppliers are expected to comply with the highest standards and regulations.

ISO 13485--”Medical devices--Quality management systems--Requirements for regulatory purposes” is the standard for organizations engaged in the manufacture of medical devices. According to the most recent survey by the International Organization for Standardization ( www.iso.org/iso/survey2006.pdf ), there were a total of 8,175 current ISO 13485 registrations across 82 countries in 2006. Approximately 30 percent of all ISO 13485 registrations were issued in the United States, compared to only 6 to 7 percent of all ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 registrations. According to the survey, the 2006 total represents an increase of 3,110 (61%) compared to 2005, when there were 5,065 registrations across 67 countries and economies. Other major markets include Europe, Japan, Canada, Sweden, and Israel.

William H. Denney, Ph.D.’s default image

By William H. Denney, Ph.D.

“We are going to win, and the industrial West is going to lose: There’s nothing much you can do about it because the reasons for your failure are within yourselves.”

--Konosuke Matsushita  

They work tirelessly to change our world irreversibly. If they succeed at what they’re doing and aren’t challenged, our way of life as we know it will end. While we whine about our bosses, our organizations, and our government; while we do the minimum that our jobs require; while we flip-flop through the mall and watch Oprah they’re planning, learning, and executing. When we’re tucked away in our beds, tossing and turning in restless sleep, they’re even busier. They don’t seem to tire; their passion is relentless. To them, weekends and holidays are inconsequential in their desire to have what we have.

We’re at war, but we seem oblivious to it. Our children’s future, our families, even our liberties are at risk, but for now, apathy is our primary defense. Secure in our ignorance of what’s happening far away, we think that we’re safe. But we’re not.

Jeffrey H. Eves and Tim Hack’s default image

By Jeffrey H. Eves and Tim Hack

The term “global” is ubiquitous in our daily lives. Like the economy, human rights, and peace, the environment is often discussed in global terms because that’s the only way to bring about profound change. Now, global warming--even though its full extent is unknown--has brought a sense of urgency to improving the environment.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) brings together stakeholders from around the globe to develop international standards that provide structured means to systematically manage improvement. ISO 14001--”Environmental Management Systems--Requirements,” along with a separate guidance document for its use, is the basic environmental management system ( EMS) standard being implemented globally to help manage environmental aspects of an organization. An EMS can be an effective tool in maintaining compliance with regulatory and other requirements, preventing pollution, and driving continuous improvement.

Ron Williams’s default image

By Ron Williams

Outside of their jobs, employees make important decisions every day. They vote on community issues. They help teach their children new skills. They purchase homes and cars and life insurance. But on the job, how many people are allowed to make important decisions about their work? How many people have input into how they do their own jobs, lead a team, find out what their customers need or make decisions about what will work better for their customers?

What are self-directed work teams?

Minnesota-based 3M is among an increasing number of companies that involve employees in the daily management of their business through work teams. These teams are empowered to take corrective actions to resolve day-to-day problems. They also have direct access to information that allows them to plan, control and improve their operations. In short, employees that comprise work teams manage themselves.

Dennis R. Arter’s default image

By Dennis R. Arter

Three basic evaluation methods exist for any work activity: inspection, compliance auditing and management auditing. The first method, inspection, measures a process's output against certain characteristics. These characteristics, generally identified as form, fit and function, are specified, and the process output either possesses those characteristics or it doesn't. As a result, an inspection's outcome is always binary: pass or fail.

Hans Ericsson’s picture

By Hans Ericsson

We’re all aware of the importance of safety testing for medical products, both for implantable devices and external devices used to monitor or sustain us when we’re in the hospital. In the past, emphasis has been on the hardware-safety aspects of external medical equipment. Are they foolproof? Are there built-in safety mechanisms that prevent the device from causing harm through electrical shock or other forms of electrical or electronic malfunction?

Until a few years ago, little thought was given to the software that is an increasingly crucial part of these devices. Over time, however, the software that controls many electronic diagnostic and life-critical electronic equipment has grown in importance, to the point where a software failure could be just as catastrophic, and life threatening, as a hardware failure. A software crash on your laptop simply means a reboot. A software crash on a piece of equipment helping to keep a patient alive is another problem altogether.

Fortunately, the issue has not gone unnoticed. In 2006, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published IEC 62304--“Medical device software--Software life-cycle processes.”